Archive for the ‘Old’ Category

Keyboards and Screens and Mouses, Oh My

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
Tags: , ,

Hello internet generation. Or is this the facebook generation? What is our generations tag? Anyone? Anyone? I have a bunch of ideas for blogs lately. If they will get done is another story. We shall see if I have the creativity to mold those tender ideas into beautiful sculptures and works of art. Ha.
Moving right along. I addressed everyone with the opening sentence because there is a trend that has caught my eye and no doubt many eyes out on the vast expanse of information/trash we call the internet. I signed onto myspace the other day. So 2006, I know forgive me internet world please. I wonder if I can still get scene points for take angle pics for myspace. Hmmm. Probably not. The scene is dead. Anyways back to the lecture at hand. I decided to click on a bulletin that one of my ex’s had put up. It was under the title of like, “Haha Booty Shorts.” I read that and was like, “Hell yeah. Booty shorts make me laugh too, except in my pants. Let me read more, and please God, if you are up there, let this bulletin include pictures.” Side note, doesn’t God ever get tired of being up? He’s an omnipotent being, I’m pretty sure he could watch what everyone was doing from where ever he wanted. I wouldn’t want to be sitting on a cloud if I were him that would just be balmy and make his hair go real frizzy. Just a thought. So I open up this bulletin hoping for a juicy tidbit or at least something pleasing to the eye. What was I greeted with you ask? A survey of course, who does anything else on myspace anymore? Needless to say, I was disappointed, but since I already had the damn page open I decided to read it. Now people ask, “Who has time to read those boring surveys about other people?” Well the answer is me apparently. So I put on a pair of my best spectacles and began the task of trying to decipher what this girl was saying in the survey. Surveys crack me up because people try to be as ambiguous as possible on the damn things. If they don’t want people to know stuff about them then why do a survey in the first place? Anyways, I was reading what the last liquid was to touch this girl’s lips and blah blah blah, when I came upon a question that caught me by surprise. Not for the content of the question, but for my reaction. It was a question about the last person this girl had kissed. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought about her kissing anyone else, but now that action was brought to the forefront of my brain. Do I still have feelings for this girl? Possibly. Would I like to kiss her again? Now that is a silly question if you know me. If it hadn’t been for myspace I would have never thought about this and wouldn’t have cared. Now usually when I have a jealous feeling it is like getting kicked in the stomach by one of those damn Budweiser horses with the huge clodhoppers. Translation- clodhopper=foot/hoof/other leg extremity. This wasn’t that bad, but still did have a downtrodden feeling after.
Making my rounds on the information superhighway, the next exit was facebook. Facebook is based around status updates. If there were no status updates there would be no point to facebook because it would just be boring. The words creeper and lurker would also be less frequented by the youth of America. The status update can be used in one of two ways. You can actually say what you are doing, or you can say some ambiguous statement that people will try to read into to decide what is going on in your life at the current time. Of course I take the second path most of the time because it is more fun. Recent updates include. “Its knucklepuck time baby.” And “Fear does not exist in this dojo.” Both are completely irrelevant and mean absolutely nothing. Why the hell would I have knucklepuck time? I don’t play hockey. I can’t even stand on rollerblades or ice skates. Am I going to take a girl tilt her on her side and try to push her into a bed? Now that is actually an idea, but most likely no. Oh Mighty Ducks, how good of a movie you were. Come back to me. Now people tend to use their status updates in the other way. I do not know why people feel the need to update others on the constant activity of their lives. I don’t really care that a guy I knew in high school got super drunk last night and can’t get out of bed today. I don’t care that some girl had the greatest night of her life last night at the club with her guurrrrllssss. Is that what it is? Is facebook really just a tool to make people want to be like other people? “Oh. My. God. She had a great night last night. Why didn’t I have a great night? I need to have a great night tonight!” It is an excuse for people to get into other people’s business. Although it most people put it out there publicly in the first place so it’s not really getting into. What is the word I’m looking for? Jealousy. Not jealousy of the actual person. It is internet jealousy.
The internet has created an entirely new way for people to be jealous of others. Jealous that they had a great night or jealous that an ex is hooking up with other people. We are so connected that we can’t kick people out of lives. It is all right there on the internet. No matter how bad I want to get rid of the thought of someone. I can’t. I will see their facebook status update. Or someone else will and they’ll text me about it, but that is a problem for another day. I can’t delete her either. That would immature. Or so people say. So the internet generation demands a stronger person. To constantly have pain being shoved into their face and be able to deal with it. The internet has become an integral part of life for much of America. It is an epidemic raging throughout the country of people being stuck in front of a screen, much like I am right now. Internet jealousy is claiming victims as we speak. There is someone crying in front of a computer right now because they see pictures of their ex with their new significant other. Where is the rock to crawl under and hide? Don’t even get me started on porn and making girls and guys expect perfect bodies and crazy face down ass half up while one leg is perched like a flamingo sex. The internet is creating a jealousy problem that requires a stronger person that the babied children who are currently surfing the data waves. God. Surfing the web. So 90’s. If anything, it’ll teach us all how to suck it up and move on with life to try and ease the pain.


Crash Into Me

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
Tags: , ,

Write. Write. Write. I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess you never really know where you are going until you actually get there. Have you hugged anyone today? Have you told your parents you love them? Did you smile at that stranger walking down the hall? When I was in high school I watched Crash in my humanities class. At the time the movie connected with me on so many different levels. Now looking back on it Don Cheadle is really correct. We drive around and purposely crash into people just to know they are there and feel something. What is a relationship? What does it take to maintain one? Does it matter how careful people are will someone always get hurt?
Hmmm. A relationship is a bond between two people. What a simple definition. It is one that can be debated fervently. And it is ironic that such a simple definition can create chaos, anger, sadness, joy, and love. The confusion comes in the part where there are two people needed for a relationship to be created. Two individuals. Oh hey, look individuals, another word we can define. An individual is a person who has been shaped by his or her own experiences in life. I can have the same exact life as Bobby Joe, but during that night in the thunderstorm as we both curled underneath a tree he thought of life and I of death. Bobby Joe and I can have a relationship, but we will never be the same. Automatically, this creates conflict in the relationship. Why did I choose Bobby Joe as a name? I have no clue it is just the first thing that came to mind. I write these things as word vomit and don’t do any brainstorming before I start typing. We all have that one moment in our life that shapes our thinking for the rest of our lives. Whether we know it or not it was there and we make decisions and have thoughts based on our history. A person cannot exist without having gone through events in their past that define who they are. And in this moment, as I can have the tuna or the turkey sandwich, I will chose the turkey because in my past I remember the obnoxious smell of tuna as my mother made her lunch everyday. But there is Bobby Joe munching on his tuna sandwich, also destroying the ecosystem of the ocean. Damn your fake ungreenness Bobby Joe. That doesn’t mean that I can’t sit next to Bobby Joe and enjoy my turkey while he or she or it enjoys their tuna. Wait a minute Andrew. What about my relationship with that inanimate object? What a bout my relationship with my nation? Or if you are me, what about my relationship with my favorite Normal Like You sweatshirt. This is why I hate defining things. I never can get it down just write. I would be a terrible dictionary writer. So let us look at these things. I have a sweatshirt. I wear my sweatshirt. My sweatshirt keeps me warm. Now that I’ve passed 1st grade let me take a deeper look at those sentences I just typed. My sweatshirt has a purpose. It keeps my warm and sheltered from the cold. If I did not wear it, it would not have a purpose. It provides for me. I provide for it. My nation provides me with a sense of who I am. If you are reading this, can speak English, and watch American Idol, you can be part of my nation. I provide the nation with a representation on Earth of an abstract idea. So therefore is a relationship is defined by a partnership in which each side provides something for the other. Right?
Okay so now you have successfully discovered what a relationship is. You probably realize, “Hey, I’m in a relationship!” Awesome. Good for you. Now how do you maintain that relationship through the peaks and valleys of what life has to offer? Take my sweatshirt. I love my sweatshirt dearly, but if I do not wear it, my sweatshirt has no purpose and it will get angry with me. If it is not cold or rainy, I do not need my sweatshirt. Therefore during the summer our relationship becomes less necessary than the relationship between my wife beater and me. Moving away from the inanimate, what about Bobby Joe. I love Bobby Joe, but he likes tuna and I like turkey. How can we ever overcome that fundamental difference in our relationship? I can forgive Bobby Joe for liking tuna. It has no direct effect on my life. What happens when we go to dinner and Bobby Joe takes me to a fish restaurant that only serves tuna? Am I supposed to get angry because Bobby Joe should know me better or am I supposed to be understanding because Bobby Joe is my friend and I should be able to make a sacrifice for the relationship? Who decides who needs to back down? If both Bobby Joe and I are hard headed and don’t give in the relationship has come to a cliff. It can turn around and try to retrace steps and work out a plan or it can continue and tumble off the cliff. This is the thing; relationships inevitably run into bumps in the road. It takes two people deciding the change things for a healthy relationship to thrive. A relationship where one person decides that they need to back down all the time is not a relationship it is a parasite with one person preying on the other. Working together is pivotal for success. Not only communication but an understanding must be laid that allows both parties to be happy both when they are in the relationship and outside of it. There comes a point in a healthy relationship where so much is known by both parties about the other that it almost an extension of one party onto the other. Now what is human nature to do at this point? So many things have been put into this relationship that trust exists. One party may have all the secrets of the other party and it is simple to break someone’s trust with one fell swoop. All the work that had gone into building a healthy relationship can be destroyed with one action, thought out or not.
Is it inevitable that one person in a relationship will be hurt? There are so many instances of people being hurt by relationships. One party may read more into the relationship than the other party. Bobby Joe may think we are just friends but I may be in love with her or him, or whatever. Or I may have thought that the way I was acting when Bobby Joe came to me with a problem was appropriate when it was actually hurting Bobby Joe. Or what if I kept secrets from Bobby Joe and Bobby Joe found out about them form other people? All these things are possible and happen everyday. People want companionship, but they also want to keep things to themselves. No relationship can be perfect like I described above. There is no perfect relationship with perfect communication and able to work every problem out with cool rational heads. That is what I love. I love knowing the fact that there may be problems in my relationships whether it is with a girl, a friend, or my parents I can try to work it out. It makes me angry it makes me happy it makes me sad. I want to yell, I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to run away. It makes me feel alive. I’m fighting something that I believe in. If I weren’t fighting I wouldn’t believe in it. I wouldn’t care. What is the point in fighting for something that one does not believe in? The pain is what I thrive off of. It sucks yes, but if I didn’t feel pain there would be no point in living. It is not so sadistic. Relationships make me feel joy and happiness beyond belief too. I thrive off of that. I want to make relationships, I want to keep my current relationships, and I want to rekindle past relationships. I am a fighter. If you do not like that I apologize. The theoretical bullshit above is a college student removing himself from a situation and describing the perfect ideal image of a relationship. This is me feeling. Something that sometimes gets lost. Feeling. Yeah a relationship should have feeling too. I used to try to stifle my emotions and not let them get in the way of my thinking. I have begun to accept them and have them help me make decisions. I want to experience the full range of feelings in my life. I want to have a relationship with you, whether it is terrible and painful or wonderful and happy. I want to say thank you to all of those people who have been in my life throughout the years. I don’t care if we weren’t really friends, if we were enemies, or if we were attached at the hip. You have all given me an experience and a life I would not change for anything. I’m a person and you’re a person. Shouldn’t that be enough of a reason for us to get to know each other? See I know where I finished at now, but I had no idea I would get here.

Just Say No

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
Tags: ,

I want you to take a second and close your eyes. Everything becomes more clear when your eyes are closed. Ironic isn’t it? Now I want you to remember the worst rejection you have ever received. A rejection, someone telling you no. I don’t care if it was from your parents, a teacher, a significant other, just imagine that. How did that rejection immediately affect you? Did you get depressed, did it make you angry, did it motivate you, did you draw a picture of the person blowing up? Hey elementary school kids have a strange way of dealing with things. Or were you never told no to in your entire life? Did you have everything at your fingertips and allowed to do whatever you damn well pleased? My worst rejection in life was my rejection from my high school soccer team. I was told by some guy I barely knew that I was not good enough at something I had done my entire life. Immediately I was mad and upset. I didn’t want to believe it and blamed it all on politics, rather than my play. I did not handle the rejection well, but I have come to understand that the rejection benefited me in ways that being on the team never would. I learned how to fail and that there is no possible way I can succeed at everything I put my head to, as much as I wanted to believe that.

I am becoming a teacher. I am on my way to teaching the youth of America about history. This isn’t a surprise for many people. I have wanted to do this probably since fifth grade. I am going through the credential program at Sonoma State University. In class, we discuss school reform, how to teach students, and how to reach English Language Learners, among other topics. A topic last week really got me thinking. The class spent an hour and half discussing how they want to make it acceptable for students to fail. They want to be able to teach students that failure is a part of life because students have so many items on their plate already that it is almost impossible for them to succeed at all of them. This is a good and noble idea, but when it comes to implementing it, my colleagues seem to fall short. In another class, composed of mostly the same students, only one woman sided with me and said that they would not accept late homework. I tried to explain that not accepting late homework imparts responsibility and makes a student stand up and have to know what they are doing in class. My fellow students were providing a safety net for their future students. They would not allow them to fail. I feel that this is the case with kids and people across the United States. They are not allowed to fail and so when they do they have no idea what to do. They implode, go into a depression, and turn to drugs or alcohol because the only plan they ever had for their entire life failed. Sure, missing homework is not the end of the world, but it is failure and fail enough and you’re likely to fail the class. And the point of not accepting late work is so that it is something small and almost trivial they are missing so students can learn that failing happens and how to move on from it. Don’t get me wrong I know that I am not going to change anyone’s life by not accepting late work, but if I can partly impact a students thinking then it may be worth it. AT the time of my soccer rejection I was so upset and felt like my world was shattered. I was ashamed and disappointed, but I learned how to fail. I gained a skill that would help me through the rest of my life. When I failed to receive the Rhodes scholarship or when I failed my first college history test, I had the experience in failing. I was able to move on and not let it destroy my life. I had been said no to before, so I knew how to accept no as an answer. I have seen too many people who don’t know how to accept no as an answer, and it ends up ruining their life.

As a society, the United States is usually always trying to be positive. This is in opposition of my Mexican heritage, to this day my mother says no more than she says yes. Every time someone has tried to use the word, “no” it has come back to bite them in the butt. Nancy Reagan coined the often-mocked phrase, “Just say no.” N.W.A. had a field day with that and came back with, “We don’t just say no, we to busy sayin’ yeah!” Hell we even had a president run on the slogan, “Yes we can.” Now that same president is using the positive energies of the United States to try to paint Republicans in a harsh light by calling them the Party of No. Why is America so obsessed with yes? The American Dream doesn’t account for failures and getting said no to. Why not? The founders of this country failed. Its called the Articles of Confederation, look it up. We are doing a disservice to our children, our nation, and ourselves by not preparing each other for no. Why can’t no be temporary? Why can’t we get rejected and then reload and go back for another try? Why are we so prideful that one no automatically shuts us off forever? Are our egos really that fragile? Saying no is often harder than saying yes. Saying no means standing up to someone and going against what else is going on. Isn’t saying no really then more American? We believe that those who say yes are often better people. They are often the people who get walked all over and don’t know how to make themselves happy. No is a part of life. Rejection is a part of life. It is about time that we as a society start owning up to the fact that in life there are losers. In fact, the majority of the time most people are losers. Now that that has been said, how do we prepare for that?

Great Expectations

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
Tags: ,

Oft expectation fails, and most oft where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest; and despair most sits- William Shakespeare

Expectations. Simple right? What are expectations? Well Katrin expects me to continue writing my blogs and eventually a book. What does that mean though? That she wants me to keep writing? Does she need me to keep writing? Is it somewhere in between? What happens when I don’t write? Even worse, what happens if I write and she doesn’t approve of it? What if it wasn’t what she EXPECTED? I expect for myself to put everything I have in everything I do. I expect Wendy’s to make square hamburgers. I expect Tupac to release a new album every two years. What did these expectations all have in common? They come from people. In fact, I divide expectations into two categories. Expectations you have of yourself and expectations you have of others/ expectations others have of you. In the end, expectations usually revolve around people. If you go to Wendy’s and get a circle hamburger you aren’t mad at the hamburger. You are mad at the person who gave you the hamburger. In the end, expectations usually get traced back to people. Now some of you out in cyberspace may say, “But what about your expectations for an apple when you throw it up in the air? Don’t you expect it to fall? And isn’t that not between people?” Okay wise guy. Thank you for putting a hole in my argument. I am leaving scientific “law” out of this conversation. It is a topic for a blog on its own.

When people come to me disappointed because something or someone, one of the first responses I shoot back to them is, “That is why I have no expectations so anything that happens is a plus.” Now anyone who knows me knows that that statement is way to half is glass full for me. I have expectations. I have high expectations, for myself and for others. This has manifested itself in people thinking that I feel that I am better than them because of my expectations. I usually let people know when they don’t meet them. It is common for people to show disappointment in others when they do something to break their expectations. For example, if someone cheats in a relationship, they broke their significant others expectation. How is a person supposed to have no expectation for that? “ITS OKAY THAT THEY CHEATED ON ME BECAUSE I DIDN’T EXPECT THEM TO STAY FAITHFUL IN THE FIRST PLACE!” That sounds like a person who needs attention and is looking to get hurt. Having expectations allows people to know when something or someone isn’t up to their standards. It allows people to raise their self-esteem and take pride in them selves. Then again this can back fire. Expectations can be entirely too high. If a person is not rooted in reality and has their expectations through the roof, they will never find anything that makes them happy. You can blame Disney for that. Or being spoiled and uppity Americans who don’t realize that while you throw the peel to your banana that has been shipped in from half way across the, there is someone somewhere who would probably use that for a house, but once again, ignorance is another blog topic. Having that connection to reality is hard to have for people. Their reality isn’t anyone else’s reality and so therefore connecting with others and having expectations of others can be incredibly difficult.

Talk to anyone that knows me and they will testify that there is a lot that even my closest friends don’t know about me. I tend to take pride in being a lone wolf. I believed at one point that the only person whose expectations I needed to meet were my own. I didn’t care what any other person though or if I did not meet their expectations. There are numerous famous quotes out there that say something along the lines of, “I am not here to meet your expectations and you are not here to meet mine.” For years of my life I would agree with this. I found that no one could meet my expectations and so I worked hard to meet my own. Now I realize that was the selfish and the easy way out. Whether we like it or not, we are on this planet together. People interact everyday. To go through life only worrying about meeting your own expectations and needs is like Kobe Bryant on the Lakers when Shaq left. Sure he was good, but he only cared about doing things his way and for himself to meet his own expectations. Now he has opened up to his teammates and helped elevate them to meet his expectations. He has put in the work to make people better so he would not be disappointed. That is the difference between a good player and a great player. Great players make everyone around them better. My EXPECTATION for myself is to be great at life. I want to make everyone around me better and in the process I become better. My actions of me only meeting my own expectations also hurt others around me because they had expectations of me even if I did not have expectations of them. I chose to ignore that and hurt plenty of people. I was disconnected from the reality that most of the people in my life were living. I had my head in the clouds, wishing I lived in a utopia where my expectations would always be met, not realizing that my expectations weren’t based on any factual evidence just my own ideas.

There is a strategy that teachers use when they are trying to get students interested in reading. First you must find a students reading level. Then you give them a book that is slightly above their reading level. That way they are challenged by what they are reading. It is important that it is still within their grasp of being able to read. That is why 3rd graders don’t usually read Chaucer. This is how I have begun to approach and rework my expectations. I have taken into consideration my friends and what they are capable of. I then work my expectations around what I think can challenge them. This works because my friends trust me. They still know when they do something that didn’t meet my expectations, but it isn’t as often or as harsh, as much. I am still working on it and it is hard. I have realized that the combination of my expectations for myself, which are still sky high, and the expectations of those close to me help mold me into the person I am. It is okay to have expectations. It is good to have expectations. Being able to handle those expectations is a juggling act that takes years if not a lifetime to figure out. But then again, after reading this, everyone should expect it to be a work in progress anyways.

Rules of Engagement

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
Tags: , ,

There are no absolute rules of conduct, either in peace or war. Everything depends on circumstances- Leon Trotsky

I just came back from a three-day trip to Disneyland. I love Disneyland it makes me happy, but it was New Years. A bunch of the rides combined a couple of things that I hate in life, too many people and Christmas decorations/ music. Even surrounded by what seemed like millions of people, I was able to do some thinking. DJ spin that track.

Take a place that has no rules. Where is this place? Are there unwritten rules? Does this place exist? Do the people that go to this place follow the rules? Let us look for a second at Disneyland. In this magical place, Walt Disney sought to create an amusement park that would transcend life and transport visitors to a seemingly different world. There are no power lines running over head, no 24 hour news stations being pumped into TVs, no wireless internet, and most worries are checked at the door. I know more than one person that as soon as they hear that magical noise of their ticket being scanned and walk through those green gates, they transform into children again, it doesn’t matter how old they actually are. Do children follow rules? Are there actual rules at Disneyland? We are taught from a young age to not cut in line. Alas, wait in a line for an hour at Disneyland just to have 35 people cut in front of you because they think it is acceptable to move to the front of the line because their family is there.  When people walk places, it is generally accepted that you do not stop in the middle of a sidewalk that is a rule society has put into place. In Disneyland entire families will stop with 17 strollers in front of you and have a conversation about how many of their seventy-six kids want a churro. Meanwhile you cannot get around them because there is a river of people flowing the other direction. This would be the equivalent of stopping in the middle of the freeway to consult a map. If Disneyland had rules, would people follow them? Half of the time, having Disney “cast members” yell at people to stay to the right or go in a certain direction does not work. People become grumpy. Adults throw tantrums when they do not get their way. Does Disneyland need rules to make it the happiest place on Earth to the second power?

What is the function of rules? To provide order to a society, a place, an event, or a job? Who creates rules? A boss, a dominant culture, an elder, a commission? Why do people need rules? Because they are animals, fall into chaos without rules, need order in their lives, are inherently evil, or to be kept down? What happens when the rules are broken? Are people punished, chastised, forgotten, vilified, remembered, or immortalized?

For an item that is so set in stone, rules sure have a lot more questions than answers. Maybe that is just cause I question everything I take in. From an early age we are taught to follow the rules. We are taught that if we fail to follow rules, there will be consequences. The authorities fail to mention at this age that consequences do not just come because you break rules but, that every action has a consequence. Students are taught to sit in their desks and raise their hand when they want to talk. Children are taught not to throw rocks. We are taught that streets should be crossed at cross walks, violence is looked down upon by many, to not cuss, and that screaming inside is not acceptable. Children come out of elementary school with little actual knowledge, they come out socialized. Six years to teach a human being the basics of how to get along with other humans and the rules involved with life. For the rest of school, students are rewarded for following the rules. Those who chose to follow the rules are often the favorites of teachers. In the work place, following the rules often leads to promotion and the pleasing of bosses. Are we trained robots? Do we just follow the program that was given to us by the users, to pull from Tron? Let’s break some of those rules. Please go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars.

And yet we look back on the history of the United States. The Founding Fathers broke the rules to create this country. They then continued to break their own rules. The said that, “All men are created equal.” That sounds like a rule to me. And yet they allowed slavery to flourish and exclude those who didn’t believe in the same religion as them. When the rest of the world thinks of the United States, they often think of cowboys.  What is the image of a cowboy? What is the connotation of the Wild West? There was a famous German writer named Karl May who wrote stories about the American West and cowboys, without ever having been there him self. His books captivated generations of Germans and gave them the idea that Americans were people who sought to reach out and break the rules and create for themselves. Americans, the ultimate rule breakers. This tradition continued with George Bush, a good old Texas, down homeboy, defying the United Nations rules and invading Iraq.

I sat in long lines at Disneyland wondering, which is more admirable. Although I have not talked highly of following the rules, there is a very admirable quality about someone who can follow the rules. Having the discipline to be able to follow rules is difficult. Everyone has broken a rule in their life because it is difficult to train one self to be able to follow all the rules that are put on humans. These are the type of people who are often happy with their life and how things are going. There is nothing wrong with that and it shows a level of restraint that most people do not possess today. What about the people who are not happy with how life is going? What about the people who are not only being kept down by the rules but being pushed down? The person who has the strength to fight against the rules and against the norm is also a person to be admired. This person is often chastised until they have accomplished what they set out to do. They are pushing against a whole group of people pushing right back. Malcolm X scared white people because he was one of the first people to speak out against white people keeping their foot down on all people of color. He was fighting against the unwritten rules. He was hated by many for his beliefs and misrepresented as a racist. He had the inner strength to continue fighting and change the rules that governed the way both people of color and white people thought. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted change too, but he followed the rules and sought change through the rules. This brought many white people to his aide. Who is greater? MLK was pivotal in the passing of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, which brought legal equality to people of all color. Malcolm X gave people of color, especially black people, a reason to be proud of whom they are, for many for the first time ever. Whose legacy is longer lasting? It is hard to say, and it is harder to say which method is more effective, although it should be said that the dominant culture celebrates a Martin Luther King Jr. day but not a Malcolm X day.

Rules are often designed to keep people down, to not act how they yearn to, and for some reason people think that it makes them more civilized, like being civilized is the ultimate goal and a good thing. The teaching program at Sonoma State says that graduates should be, “Agents of individual growth and social change as well as models and advocates of the broader intellectual and social values of a democratic society.” Don’t these two statements conflict? How can I be an agent of social change while an advocate for social values of a democratic society, when often this society rejects change when the so-called man loses power? Rules restrict people. They take the human essence and try to transform into something unnatural and inhuman. Humans are often at their best and most creative when they are free. They are also at their worst when they are free. Education and an understanding of critical thinking are pivotal for people to be able to handle themselves, without rules. This isn’t a declaration of faith in the goodness of human nature. It is a declaration of belief that humanity can chose to get to this level, but it is much easier to be a follower than a leader. I will leave you with a quote just incase you haven’t figured out my stance yet. Malcolm X once said, “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”

Building Bridges

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
Tags: , , ,

It is quite funny when you think about it. Humans need water to survive. We need it to drink and to make our bodies run. We use water as a means of transportation, shipping, and recreation. When there isn’t enough water we don’t have enough to eat, our nice palm trees that are planted in areas they never should be die, and we don’t go to water slides as often. Yet as a species, we can’t live in water, we drown. We aren’t even that well equipped to be in water, unless you have one of those creepy friends with webbed toes. Throughout the history of civilization, and even today, societies build their largest and most grand cities near sources of water, whether it is a river, a lake, or an ocean. Some of the first civilizations came to existence between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. So it is no joke that humans like being around water. But how do we live around water with so much working against us being in water. So how do we handle being around so much water? We build bridges. From stone and gravel to majestic structures of steel, bridges are scattered throughout the world for humans to be able to cross from one piece of solid land to another. As much as I am sure that you would love a social science lesson combining the history of bridges, the political science of what bridges do for nation states, the geography of why bridges are located where they are, the economic costs and benefits of a bridge, and the sociology of how bridges affect the behaviors of people, I am not going to do that to you. Sorry I lied. Actually I am. Just I am going to wrap it all around some psychology. I am such a nerd.

People build bridges everyday. Individuals build bridges everyday. An individual by definition can be nothing more than oneself. How so is it that we can connect with any of the other 6 billion people on the planet? Well if you read the title, we build bridges. There are so many types of bridges that it will be difficult to go through all of them here. There is your standard bridge. It is a two-way bridge that both parties can use equally. There is a drawbridge. This can be raised and lowered depending on the situation, the time of year, or the relationship status of the two parties. There is the one-way bridge that only allows travel in one direction. There is the double decker bridge. In this bridge there is travel both ways, but one person is on top and superior to the one on the bottom. Then there is my favorite type of bridge, the toll bridge. In this bridge a person must pay something to go a certain way. Then there is the matter of what the bridge is built out of. Is it made of wood? What about steel? What about a Roman bridge made of stone? Evaluate a relationship. What type of bridge do you have? What is it made out of? Is your Facebook relationship made out of steel or toothpicks and marshmallows? Some people don’t even build bridges. They build walls, as well as moats. They throw in some alligators, a dragon, and some archers on the wall for good measure. Every relationship you have is a bridge connecting one individual to another. We build bridges first to those individuals that are easy to build bridges too (geography). Every once and a while we try to build a bridge that has no chance of ever completing construction. We just want to see if we are able to actually build it or not.

Now that we know that we all have bridges in our lives, it is time to see what we do with our bridges. Bridges take maintenance. If they are not looked after, they begin to degrade and become unsafe even (sociology). Did you know that they are constantly painting the Golden Gate Bridge? They will paint one side and by the time they are done painting that side, they will have to start painting the other side. If they didn’t constantly do that, one of the great symbols of the United States would begin to turn into not a symbol but an image. So do you like to do maintenance on your bridges? Are there old bridges that aren’t even worth keeping up anymore? Are there new bridges half built that should have been abandoned a while ago? Is there your favorite bridge that is constantly undergoing renovations and upkeep?

Picture yourself (the individual) as a nation (political science). You have defined borders (your body) and citizens (your feelings) to worry about. You are surrounded on all sides by rivers. How do you decide what other nations to build bridges to? Are you going to build them to those with common interests? Maybe you could build bridges to countries that offer to trade with you.  What about those who have the same skin color? Or even crazier, those with a different skin color? Maybe a bridge is built because that other nation has big mountains. Hahahaha. Sometimes bridges aren’t built on purpose. It is better for a nation to decide that a bridge leading to a certain place would only cause more problems then it would solve.

In the age of social media it is important to  keep track of your bridges. It is important that you don’t always have to build those bridges, and that having too many bridges can actually be a bad thing for you. With too many bridges, it is easy to forget or not pay attention to the bridges that are important and critical for your own success. A person can easily be overcome with too much to do with trying to keep up with older bridges, while adding new ones. At the same time, it is important to know when a bridge should be torn down or forgotten completely. No relationship is meant to last forever. Nations change (we can blame global warming). I have the problem of changing and realizing that others change but still trying to keep that bridge open. I need to know when to commence demolition. As fun as it is to put a little work into a bridge that has been left unattended for years, I have spread myself too far. And most important, a bridge goes two ways. My side of the bridge can be maintained and look great, while the other side of the bridge is falling down and empty. Those are the bridges people need to let go of. Which is the hardest because so much work has been put into it. In the end, remember you are your own construction worker and your own demolisher. And besides, rebuilding a bridge where one once stood isn’t impossible, only a little bit more difficult. As a person, I love actual bridges. There is no cooler image I have ever seen than coming across the Bay Bridge and getting out of the tunnel on Angel Island and seeing San Francisco and the buildings for the first time. It is majestic. It gives you the true definition of a transition. It connects San Francisco and Oakland. Two worlds that are quite different in their own right. I still get butterflies whenever I see that sight. That is the feeling I need when I cross my bridges built of relationships.

Attack of the Legacy

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
Tags: ,

How long will they mourn me?

-Tupac Shakur

I have been thinking about death lately. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because there has been death and downfall happening in my life lately. Maybe it is because I am getting older and realizing that I am not invincible. Maybe it is because I think about things that other people don’t really think of. Maybe it is because I listen too much Tupac and Biggie, who basically predicted their own deaths. Maybe it is because I have been thinking about religion and one of the main things many religions try to explain is death. Maybe I just have head issues.

I love a good story. More particularly I love a good story that involves me. And when I say good story, it usually involves something completely stupid or jacked up. I actually have too many of these stories. These are the stories that I would gladly share and laugh hysterically as I told them. Breaking into my ex’s house, getting taken advantage of, the q-tip incident, and so many others hold in them enough laughter, joy, and pain, for an entire lifetime. I realize now why I love telling these stories to people. By me telling these stories, instead of someone else, I am writing my own legacy. I am putting my own viewpoint and focusing on the points that I want to be heard and remembered.

A legacy. See a legacy is a fickle thing. A legacy isn’t actually what you did. A legacy is what you are remembered for. The legacy of Abraham Lincoln isn’t that he wavered, unsure about whether to abolish slavery. It is that he freed the slaves. The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t of a man who fought economic injustice and the Vietnam War. It is that he suddenly made colored people equal to whites. What people want to be remembered for isn’t what they are actually remembered for. A person can guide their legacy, but they cannot write it. Others write your legacy. This is a disturbing reality to a person who likes to be in control of everything around them.

I would tell these stories, with a smile on my face and a chuckle out of my mouth. I love them. Now I am starting to think about something. My legacy will not impact me. I can be proud of these stories and tell people I have no regrets and wouldn’t do anything different, but my legacy will in no way help or hinder me. My legacy will have an impact on the legacy I leave behind, my family and my kids. Now take this with a grain of salt because I can’t even keep a steady relationship, so I am guessing when I say family. I may be proud of what I do. I may be able to justify it all in my mind, but will my kids feel the same way about my legacy? Am I doing enough with my life to make others proud of the story I leave behind? You see we all leave behind stories. Sure, we may not be historical actors in the high school history text book sense of the word, but we all leave behind a story, our own history, our legacy. That is something they don’t teach you in school.

Now what actually started this was I had a dream. This wasn’t quite as hopeful and promising as MLK’s dream. I think more people have this dream than are willing to admit. I was at my own funeral and I had to sit through and listen to what everyone had said about me. No one really held anything back. You know they say it takes a village to raise a child. That village never stops carrying or raising you, the people in it just change from the traditional. You might say Andrew, how can you think about death like this? When you stop and think about it, thinking about death like this is actually thinking about life. I am going to leave you with some more lyrics about death. It is from a song called “Eulogy” by Frank Turner.

“Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut,

not everyone was born to be a king,

not everyone can be Freddie Mercury,

but everyone can raise their glass and sing.

I may not be the perfect kind of person,

I may not do what mum and dad dreamed,

but on the day I die, I’ll say at least I fucking tried.

That’s the only eulogy I need.”